05/24/2007 11:00PM

Padilla Bay needs lead in sprint


AUBURN, Wash. - Padilla Bay makes things simple for handicappers. When he gets the lead, he wins. When he doesn't, it can get really ugly.

Ugly was the word to describe Padilla Bay's 2007 debut in a $20,000 claiming sprint on April 27, when he was denied the lead and soon lost interest, finishing almost 26 lengths behind the victorious Gold Lad.

Howard Belvoir, who trains Padilla Bay, will cut the claiming price in half for Sunday's feature, a six-furlong race for $10,000 claimers that has drawn a field of eight, and it is entirely possible that Padilla Bay will be favored despite the debacle last out. That is because Padilla Bay, a 5-year-old son of Swing and Miss, appears to be the primary speed, and he has won all four of his outings in which he has led after a quarter-mile. Regular rider Jennifer Whitaker knows this full well, and she is expected to pull out all the stops to get to the front after breaking from the rail post.

Padilla Bay has two potential pace rivals in Trish's Diamond and Point Dume, both making their Emerald Downs debuts.

Trish's Diamond was claimed for a modest $4,000 by trainer Roy Lumm for Blue Diamond Stable from his last start, Feb. 10 at Golden Gate. Trish's Diamond, a 6-year-old, is questionable on class but certainly has speed, showing the way in four of his last six outings. Joe Crispin rides.

Point Dume ships in from Turf Paradise, where he beat $20,000 optional claimers in March.